3 Feb 2006

Fiji plans to give new protective gear to troops nothing to do with Hamas

7:05 pm on 3 February 2006

The Fiji Military says the plan to distribute new protective gear for Fiji troops in the Sinai has nothing to do with the election victory of the Palestinian Hamas group.

Fiji soldiers were sent to the Sinai as part of the Multinational Force and Observers, which was set up after the Camp David Accords in 1982.

338 Fijian troops are currently based in the Sinai.

Fiji military spokesperson, Captain Neumi Leweni, says the helmets, body arrows and other protective gear are needed urgently.

"The request was put in a while back. But as you know it has to go through parliament, so they had to wait for the next parliament sitting. It is just something that needs to be provided for our troops. Even if the other party would have won, it would not have made any difference. It is just part of the equipment that should be provided to the troops and that is it."

Media reports say the government has approved a budget of 400,000 US dollars for the gear.